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Aligning a Company Vision with Personal Values

Alignment
Customers
Mission / Vision / Charter
Product
Motivation
Users
Toxic Atmospheres

19 January, 2022

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null at Facebook

Anjul Bahuguna, Product Manager at Facebook, gives his expertise on the process of transitioning a company vision and the challenges that come with it.

Problem

A few years ago, I was employed at a tech company that designed location services for cell phones. Locations were used when 911 operators were dispatching emergency services to individuals in need. I joined this company but quickly realized that the mission statement to create the best location-based services did not align with my views. Initially, there was only one team of 10-12 engineers that felt invested in the company. It slowed our growth as well, as candidates didn't feel connected to the mission statement.

Actions taken

The primary step when redesigning our mission statement was to apprehend the core value of our organization. At first, the statement only impacted the small group of engineers that felt strongly about location services. Our team pursued a shift in mindset and concluded that our location-based tech was just a means to an end. Our desired impact was to save lives and help people that used our location services when calling 911. From this, we created a new mission statement that simplified our outcome and made our services personal for employees and clients.

While my mission started for personal reasons, the change in mission statement was a companywide shift. My goal as a product manager was to assign value to our product for anyone, whether it be a designer, engineer, product manager, or operations team. When the team recognizes the value they are adding to the mission, they will perform at a higher standard.

Throughout this process, I communicated in a manner that was not harmful to anyone in our organization. I highlighted data from employees and users that conveyed that our product targeted people who buy services from a telecom site. My data underlined that our product was out of touch with the law enforcement that used it. We exploited this data and contacted agencies directly who used our product and gained business from this interaction. We had a B2B company but interacting with clients directly gained contracts in some cases.

From here, our company's focus shifted, and the conversation evolved. Once that happened, it was the right time to propose our change in the mission statement. Initially, there was some pushback from the founding engineering team, who were passionate about location tech. I interviewed them each individually to learn their viewpoint and build a relationship together. Since I am a functional PM by education, I spent time learning about the technical aspects of their role and showed them how this change was bringing more business and, in turn, value into our organization.

It was a slow process but reminding the team of the benefits of this change was essential. Communicating the value without hurting my team was a time-consuming process. Perseverance was key when it became difficult, but I never dropped the idea because I believed in it. The outcome of this change was a 40% increase in revenue in two years. Our senior executives reengaged investors, knowing that our new mission brought more value and growth possibilities.

Lessons learned

  • Perseverance is key. I knew that this change brought value to our organization, and I did not give up even though it was a slow process. Being a product manager can feel like a lone ranger position, but that is seldom the case.
  • When creating a new vision, adapt but do not compromise. Tailor a mission based on feedback and evolve key items to set a company up for success. Without a comprehensible vision, it will be challenging to create a positive impact with a product. At the end of the day, values drive a product.

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